NEWS

Please, Stop This

Vijendra Prakash threw his hands up in despair yesterday and made an impassioned plea: “Please, stop these temple attacks.” The president of the Rewa Division of the Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi
22 Jan 2018 11:00
Please, Stop This
The look of despair. The president of Rewa Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha, Vijendra Prakash, in the Gopal Sadhu Hanuman Ghandi Mandir in Wainibuku on January 21, 2018 gets emotional about the break-in of their temple on Friday. Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu

Vijendra Prakash threw his hands up in despair yesterday and made an impassioned plea: “Please, stop these temple attacks.”

The president of the Rewa Division of the Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha, one of the largest Hindu organisations in Fiji, was in tears as he described the pain that they were going through after the third temple attack in a month.

Mr Prakash said: “Every time our temple has been broken into, many followers have stopped coming to it.

“Three temples in the Rewa Division have been broken into within a month. It is very hurtful and not something that we take lightly.”

The latest incident happened at the mandir (temple) at Wainibuku, between Suva and Nausori last Friday.

The first two break-ins occurred at Waila near Nausori and Sasawira in Nakasi.

“This temple in Wainibuku was previously broken into 11 times.”

He said the priest who lived there and his daughters were not able to play outside because they were scared something could happen to them.

“We respect the churches, the mosques, the markaz. It is heart-breaking to see our temple of God broken into,” he said.

He said people who came to pray in the past have had their vehicles broken into, the ladies bag snatched. He said the temple had also been stoned before while people prayed.

“In our religion, we believe in keeping our temple open. But we have had to seal the temple with concrete walls and doors to make it safe.”

The temple was opened in 1992.

The Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji national president Sarju Prasad was very upset, disappointed and angry about what took place.

“I condemn this kind of actions. In Fiji, everybody has a freedom of religion and faith,” he said.

Mr Prasad confirmed that they had instructed all temples around the country not to keep any money in the premises.

Reactions

The Fiji Council of Churches has come out strongly to condemn the desecration, break-ins of temples and worship sites of other religious organisations.

The council’s president, Reverend Tevita Banivanua, former Methodist Church president, said any such act was not right in any society.

“We have to look after and respect each other’s religious practice even if it’s different from our own. We should learn to live together,” Reverend Banivanua said.

“Some of these young people are looking for valued items, money and it has nothing to do with their faith. But still it can’t be tolerated. We are all equal before God, let’s look after one another and live in peace.”

Police

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho commended the Fiji  Council of Churches for condemning such actions.

“We need society to make those statements,” he said.

He said they would make an impact. He repeated his earlier statement that any attack on temples and churches was not acceptable. He said Police had produced in court the accused in the Waila incident. He said Police would not rest until the perpetrators of these crimes were brought to justice.

Government

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate and Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Vijay Nath joined Mr Prakash yesterday to offer him moral support.

Mr Usamate said all places of worship were important to the different religious bodies and they should be kept like that.

“Everyone has the freedom of worship. People in the country should feel free,” he said.

“They should not feel threatened and unsafe. That is something that we have to act on seriously.”

He said people should feel that their rights were important.

Mr Nath, a Hindu himself, said: “I would like to advise the general public that our temple is not a place where we keep a lot of money.

“It is where we worship our God and our religious scriptures are kept with our deities.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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